After a particularly harrowing night last week I haven’t been able to quite shake the blues after witnessing the fucked up aggressive behavior toward women and the ignorant attitudes (the most alarming was from a fellow dancer) that continue to enable this current trend of violence against women and rape culture as “not ok but to be expected” in certain contexts, or the old “She was wearing this,” “She does that for a living,” or “She looks like a girl who would….” .
The excuses I hear from men behaving badly over and over again about the conniving sorcery of the vagina as it renders men helpless in a flash of gash, robbing them of their basic sense of human kindness. The definition of ‘violence’ has become one so extreme and obvious as to obliterate the subtleties and manipulations most often deployed in order to effectively be violent….and not get caught. Basically the general feeling is that if you don’t get punched in the face, or visibly bruised, or raped, you haven’t really been a victim of violence. It hasn’t been that bad. Could’ve been worse.
I’m still processing why the other night has effected me so deeply. Nothing that fucked up happened to me in particular but I was there. In the thick of it. The extreme nature of the people involved in the events has burnt something into me. Rolling hills of fear, discomfort, sadness, adrenalin, disgust, anger, tension, violation, humiliation, embarrassment, confusion, disbelief. I keep seeing the faces and hands…fingers, hearing the roars, profanities and cries, feeling over and over again the sensation of being numb in myself but hurting on behalf of everyone else and beyond. Maybe those girls have forgotten it by now. I haven’t. I want to be able to sweep it to the side, watch my sadness for human kind float away like particles of dust. I don’t actively watch the news anymore. I haven’t since 2008. But even still, ensconced in this little girl’s bubble of a world that I have constructed for myself, the stories of brutal rape and senseless victim blaming in India, of some fat Asian’s stupid rape culture t-shirt at Coachella, the girl in Melbourne being stabbed to death in the light of early evening, have all made it through my strawberry flavoured hubba bubba barrier.
No one was violently raped the other night. Not as such. Not with a dick anyway. I don’t know. Does a finger shoved up a vagina or asshole without consent count? Does a giant Maori man fucked off his face on drugs licking a girl’s vagina while she is facing the other way, or the same giant biting another girl hard on the shoulder, or his Sydney Lebanese friend digging both hands into her ass so hard that I could see the dints of his nails and fingertips, count as violence? I’m inclined to say yes but for some reason, the reactions of people who are told this story or who were actually there, seem to indicate no. This is what makes my heart hurt days later. This is why my eyes still sting with the threat of tears. This is why my throat constricts and my breathing pauses as I actively try NOT TO FEEL IT. I am trying not to feel the way I SHOULD feel when I was in the same room over a period when all of these things were happening. Some things I was aware of, some not. I was doing my best to manage my guy, to distract him from the fingering, the arse smacking and grabbing, ear licking, that was going on around us so that he wouldn’t expect the same. His octopus hands were doing their best to wander, his energy within our dynamic was threatening to fracture, to stray from me and become a part of the pack. My eyes were on him. So I did nothing. I said nothing.
My sister is a science writer. She says we are in a unique position as strippers to have insight into many elements of primal behaviour that have stood their ground through centuries of evolution. Now she has me reading scientific papers on aggressive fucked up chimpanzee behaviour and the hypothesis that these correlate with that of humans due to both biological AND cultural similarities. I’m learning that sexual coercion and collective violence are common in both. That it’s not just an imagined phenomena that men are more likely to fuck your shit up, and that women go for men who will fuck their shit up. And that one of the biggest differences between Great Apes and homosapiens is that the male homosapiens SHOULD be advanced enough to over ride their biological compulsions to be total fucking assholes, and that the females SHOULD be advanced enough to know that they have other choices than to take it like a bitch. And it’s up here on my high horse, where the air is brisk and fresh, and everything seems so clearly laid out before my eyes, that I have to marvel at myself. It was only 6 months ago that I allowed myself to be violated. I did not defend myself. I did not speak out. My brain over rid my instinct and I paid that milk eyed toad faced predator and left without a word of complaint. When I was 14 years old I was in the room as my best friend was molested. It was subtle, it wasn’t obviously violent. Even so, I thought I knew something was wrong. I did nothing. I said nothing. I did nothing because all my life I have been trained not to speak up. I was taught as a child not to question people in a position of authority or care. As adults women are told not to be hysterical, not to over react, not to be emotional. To handle things without ‘causing’ drama. It’s always on us to fix our reactions, to tolerate the behaviour of others and adjust ourselves to cope. It’s wrong. This needs to change.
After a night like that all I want is to be held. To have a man I care for show me what it’s supposed to be like. Contact. Intimacy. Care. Tenderness. The right way to be naked in front of someone. The right way to be touched and admired. To be desired for more than my instagrammable arse and my perky boobs. The right way to have someone inside me. To be really seen, and valued, instead of just looked at and chucked a hundred dollar bill. To be wanted for more than just 10 minutes of possession. To have someone see me as I really am as their eyes move over me, trace their fingertips from my forehead to my toes, up the back of my legs all the way up again to cradle the crown of my head. Just to remind me that that kind of thing really exists.